Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In the summer of 2010, I traveled to my native Kenya to conduct field work for my dissertation report. I spend about two months in the field carrying out this exercise. I carried out my study among a rural women group called Bang' jomariek women group in West Reru sub location of Kisumu East District in Western Kenya. The group has 25 active members and a number of inactive ones. The name means 'after the wise ones' and refers to the fact that they think they were late in founding their group while other people's were already up and running. This group involves itself in a variety of activities not limited to the production of pots, baskets and clay wall making which formed the gist of my study. This group is involved in teaching and learning processes that can be considered non-Western in orientation because they are adaptations of the pre-colonial community's methods of doing the same.
Akinyi Wadende

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Research seminar Methodological Problems of Education Reform Management

Research seminar Methodological Problems of Education Reform
Management was held in Samara, Russia at the end of March 2002. It was sponsored


The topic of the seminar was decided because of the challenges of modern
Russian education: educational reform (named education modernization) has been
started in the country. Well-known Russian experts Ushakov, Moiseev, Pudenko
(Moscow), Bogoslavskiy, Scherbova (St.-Petersburg), Kogan, Fishman, Postaluk
(Samara), Tregubova (Kazan), Finogenko (Krasoyarsk) and others participated in the
seminar. Group work and discussions occupied the biggest part of the seminar though
there were some presentations.
Major discussion was devoted to the following issues:
• managerial goals of education reform;
• management and educational management: peculiarities of management of
different educational systems (federal, regional, municipal, school); and
• mechanisms of change management in different educational systems.
Summary of the discussions
Educational reform in Russia (implemented sometimes regardless of decisionmakers’
wishes) is determined by a variety of reasons. We witness some
revolutionary changes in views on education. For a long time education was being
considered a goal, but now it has impetuously become the means. Some years ago the
main aim of education was to form certain personal features considered desirable by
the society. Today the aims focus on meeting personal educational needs. On the
other hand, changes in the social-economic conditions and functioning of education
institutions within those conditions strictly prescribe the reform mechanisms of their
interaction with the environment.
Education reform goals form some kind of hierarchy. Conceptualizing
education as the means of meeting educational needs (or solving problems) of
individual, community and state we should proceed from the point that the main goals
of education reformation are social-economic ones. In other words education should
give, allow, provide people with something.
At the next level we can suppose education-reforming goals that ensure
implementation of the main (social-economic) goals. These goals can be divided into
the following main types:
• pedagogical (content of education, methods used and so on which relate to
educational processes as such but not to conditions providing for it);
• economic;
• organizational; and
• personnel.
The last three groups of goals provide for the implementation of the
pedagogical goals (by producing the conditions or resources mentioned), and can
affect them too. For example, creating an organizational mechanism allowing the
community to influence school decision-making processes leads to education content
Managerial goals of education reforming are equal (in the opinion of some
seminar participants) to goals of education reform. According to this view nonmanagerial
goals do not exist. Other experts stated that the educational community
considers “goals” and “managerial goals” to be different terms. This is explained by
the fact that “managerial goal” (in contrast to traditional education understanding of
the term “goal”) is apprehended as something stricter: it should meet the requirements
of being concrete, realizable and measurable. It was suggested that managerial goals
relate just to the managerial subsystem, which ensure education outcomes by
providing definite conditions or resources.
Great debate occurred when discussing the issues of specificity of
management/leadership in education, as this specificity should be taken into account
while conceptualizing educational reform management. In the West, educational
management, educational administration, educational leadership relate to the field of
education and not to the field of management. The question arises: what specific
features of management in education should we take into consideration (in particular,
in educational systems of different levels) when dealing with the issues of change
management? The reason of for this question is in fact that the management of
(organizational) change is a well-developed part of management and its ideas should
be used in theorizing as well as in practical reforming of Russian education. At the
same time the specificity mentioned may lead to some restrictions in the use of these
Some seminar participants suggested that the specificity of education
management should first of all consist in sufficiently more uncertainty of external
order, (in comparison with other organizational systems) which is explained by a nontotalitarian
understanding of education and a natural overall evaluation of the power
of institutional education. Another specific feature of education management
(according to suggestions mentioned at the seminar) is the variety of “managers”
(“decision-makers”) in educational systems. Teachers and students can be considered
among this group, as can principals and superintendents.
All these should be taken into consideration when examining education reform
management. The only question is, to what extent? As a result of hot debate the
general consensus of all participants was that at all levels management is first of all
management (if not speaking of teacher-student interaction) and only then school
management, district management, regional education system management and so on.
In other words school management, restaurant management, etcetera is a specific kind
of activity, which possesses its own rationality.1 We must take into consideration the
specificity of schooling, cooking, and so on at production management level only.
That is why ideas of change management should be fully utilized while
conceptualizing education reform management and projecting the practical steps of
That is why principals should be first of all trained to interact with community
and other representatives of social environment and assistant principals should
1 We should note that according to Russian legislation the school principal is an employer: He or she
consider classroom observation and “methodic work”2 as the ways of personnel
management. And the fact that education management belongs to the field of
education in the West could be explained through understanding that education is a
huge sphere and not by the specificity of management in education. Western experts
in education management/leadership deal with the ideas of management/leadership by
only operating with educational examples. Russian traditions allow consideration of
any pedagogical publication to be in the field of education management.
Interesting discussions also occurred while considering other issues. For
example, various points of view were expressed on the tasks of education reform on
federal, regional, municipal, school levels. It has become evident that experts had
different positions concerning the significance of organizational, economic and
personnel aims at different levels of management as well as the usage of specific
managerial mechanisms.
Real brainstorming was focused on managerial mechanisms of education
reform. Its results can’t be described in this brief publication. We should only mention
that this discussion as well as others at the seminar was of great importance for
academicians’ theoretical understanding of educational reform management and for
practitioners who needed a starting point to implement the reform.
Lev Fishman, Regional Editor for Russia
2 A Russian term, which means different activities, related to the assistant principal–teacher and